David Knights' Weblog

November 24, 2010

Book Review: Every Day a Nightmare, American Pursuit Pilots in the Defense of Java 1941-1942 by William H. Bartsch

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 6:55 am
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Every Day a Nightmare

Book Review: Every Day a Nightmare, American Pursuit Pilots in the Defense of Java 1941-1942 by William H. Bartsch

ISBN:978-1-60344-176-6 506 pages MSRP $40.00

Review by D.M. Knights IPMS/USA 17656 IPMS/Canada C6091

 Wow. Just wow. OK, maybe I better back up. I like to shop on Amazon.com. I especially like the feature they have where they will recommend items you might be interested in based on what you have purchased in the past. If it weren’t for that feature, I might never have gotten this book, which is one of the more enjoyable histories I’ve read. I have an interest in early WWII Pacific history and based on what I’ve purchased off of Amazon.com in the past, the website recommended this book. I had never heard of it. It was only published in 2010, so it is fairly new.

As the title implies, the book covers the story of the US pursuit pilots who were shipped to Australia in the early days of the war in the Pacific and who ended up fighting in a futile fight to defend Java from the early Japanese onslaught. The author thoroughly researched this book and much of it comes from the diaries of the pilots involved. In addition, the author utilized the official records to give the sense of the larger picture in the chaotic early days of the war. Many of the photographs come from the private photos of the individuals involved and most are ones that have not been published before.

 At over 500 pages, the book is a little bit intimidating. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to slog thru a 500-page book, but once I read the first few pages I was hooked. The author is a gifted writer, who makes the compelling story come to life. The reader finds himself rooting for the young and inexperienced US pilots, even though you know what the outcome was. You are amazed at the speed at which the US moved men and material half way around the world. You are also stunned by the fact that most of the pilots that were chosen to go to Java were recent flight school graduates many with just a few hours in the P-40s they would fly in combat. Contrast that with the years of experience that the JNAF pilots they flew against had. The result was a foregone conclusion.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is the perfect companion to the Shores and Cull two-volume set, Bloody Shambles. It was one of the best books I’ve read in a long while. It was an especially good deal since I received a substantial discount by purchasing it online from Amazon.com. .

1 Comment

  1. David,
    I’m publicity and advertising manager for Texas A&M University Press, the publisher of Every Day a Nightmare. Your excellent review of the book came up in my Google Alerts. I’m glad you liked the book; thank you so much!
    You may be interested to know that Bartsch has two other books with us: December 8, 1941: MacArthur’s Pearl Harbor and Doomed at the Start: American Pursuit Pilots in the Philippines.
    Also, TAMU Press is the second-largest publisher of military history titles in the U.S. Our Williams-Ford military history series includes more than 100 titles. You can view them here: http://www.tamupress.com/Catalog/ProductSearch.aspx?sf=ss=Williams-Ford%20Texas%20A%26M%20University%20Military%20History%20Series
    Thanks again,

    Comment by Holli Estridge — November 24, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

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